"Spotify has, 'This Is the Pixies, This Is Midnight Oil, put together their own compilations if you like.' But that's different from actually listening to an album."
Record Store Day is just about upon us. The Music caught up with last year's ambassador Minister Anthony Albanese and new representatives Michael Chugg and Amber Lawrence at the Record Store Day launch event at Sydney's Red Eye Records last month to find out why the day means so much for the local music industry.
Over the past ten years, Record Store Day has gone from a promotional tool to a cult following. Now in its 11th year, the day will see record stores across the world full of shoppers, looking for something new and exciting in this year's special releases, while at the same time celebrating and supporting what makes their local music economy so great.
This year's Record Store Day launch took place at the iconic Red Eye Records in Sydney, presenting the opportunity for last year's lead ambassador, former Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Minister for Transport & Infrastructure, Shadow Minister for Cities, Shadow Minister for Tourism, Anthony Albanese, to hand over the reins to new ambassadors.
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During the event, Albanese shared anecdotes on what his Record Store Day tenure looked like, including how he gave Sydney duo Polish Club some national airtime by spinning their record, Alright Already, on Channel 10's breakfast show, Studio 10.
"It was great fun, so that's the first thing to say, but it also, I think, was quite fulfilling because it felt as though Record Store Day is a part of making a difference, promoting independent record stores, promoting, particularly, Australian music, Australian artists, and I think connecting with people," says Albanese of his time in the role.
"When you talk to people about Record Store Day, they go, 'Yeah, it is sort of different from having a song on Spotify.' Spotify has, 'This Is the Pixies, This Is Midnight Oil, put together their own compilations if you like.' But that's different from actually listening to an album from beginning to end, in the order in which it was meant to be played and one of the things that's happened recently as well is the increasing number of artists who will play an album like Spiderbait played Ivy & The Big Apples at the Enmore [Theatre] from go to whoa.
"That, I think, to me is a recognition that people do want that. Patti Smith did Horses at the State Theatre, that was just fantastic, and so I think there is something to be said for touching, feeling, walking into a record store."
When asked about the economic impact of Record Store Day, Albanese is clear that the event's importance goes further than just one day.
"It's great for [business owners] because it's not just about the day, where hopefully they'll have a big spike, but that people will come back and it's a reminder of how many record stores there are now. The growth in suburbs, there's now a record store in Marrickville Road where I have my electorate office, RPM, and that's a really good thing.
"So it's an opportunity for them to promote their wares as well. One of the things about local record stores is that they employ local people and they tend to be run by people who aren't in it to make their fortune. They're run by people who are passionate about music and are quite happy to give recommendations or have a chat about particular artists."
Albanese is impressed with the stature of this year's ambassadors, promoter Michael Chugg and musicians Dan Sultan and Amber Lawrence, and given their importance to the Australian music industry he's, jokingly, hesitant to give any advice to his successors.
"I think given the quality of the ambassadors, I'm quite embarrassed I got to be the ambassador," he laughs. "But I'm sure that Michael, Amber and Dan will do a fantastic job. It's good that you've got a promoter and two artists of different musical genres out there and that's a good thing."
With over 50 years in the business, Michael Chugg is certainly a man qualified for the role of ambassador of Record Store Day.
"I think it's important. Anything that gets people into record bars and browsing through records and discovering new music, rediscovering old music and feeling what it feels like, not just downloading or streaming, I think it's a very big part of it. We are noticing that the physical stock growth of some of our bands' sales are actually growing because people want to see it and want to feel it."
"Every time we do a vinyl edition for any of our acts, it sells out. And more and more people are getting turntables. I mean the quality of the vinyl production and sound is very special and I think a lot of people are discovering that. I also think a lot of people want to actually know more about the band and that's got a lot to do with it as well."
Golden Guitar-winning country singer Amber Lawrence hopes to offer the "perspective of a person creating music and wanting people to hear it" during her time as ambassador.
"We are indebted in some ways to record stores too… Obviously we provide product for them to sell but they provide recommendations to their customers," she explains. "There are times, many times, when a person would go into a store and say, 'I want to hear a female singer-songwriter that I've never heard of before,' and it might be me that the record store suggests and they become lifelong fans."
Record Store Day takes place nationally on 21 Apr.